I recently read about a 15 year old girl who had a premature baby in her bedroom. The baby was born alive, weighed 2+ pounds and the girl threw the baby out the window. The baby died.
I find myself trying to assess blame. Do I blame the 15 year old girl for being heartless and not taking responsibility for having gotten pregnant? Do I blame the father of the baby for getting a 15 year old girl pregnant? Or, do I blame the parents of the 15 year old girl who had not built a relationship with their daughter based on trust. A relationship that would enable her to turn to them when she is in trouble. A foundation that would ensure that their daughter would know that though her parents would be disappointed and upset, they would get her through any situation.
The truth is that I don’t know the intimate details of the story or even the parents side. The reporter wasn’t interested in writing about the human side of the story or may have been prevented by the girl’s age. Was the girl molested by an adult, was the father an older boy, were the parents aware that she was pregnant, had plans been made for finding another home for the child, did her parents plan to raise the baby? The publication only seemed to care about the shock factor and I rushed to judgement based on the little information presented. It is good that I waited a couple of days to write this so that I have had time to ask myself the hard questions. Who am I to judge, where is my compassion, what were the circumstances and the really hard one – what made me read the article?
I wish I could tell you that I won’t read such articles in the future but that would not be the truth. I know myself well enough that there is no doubt that I will continue to read articles pertaining to child abuse, neglect and murder. I must admit that the shock value attracts me as it gives me a thrill and a target for my outrage and anger. But there’s something else it gives me and that is insight and compassion. I come into contact with young girls who desperately need someone to talk to and they are very much afraid. The reasons they are afraid vary but they don’t feel that they can talk to their parents. These girls need encouragement and reassurance that they can get through any situation. Talking with these girls builds compassion and dampens the rage and anger because I can do something to help.
I write a lot about my mother and how her alcoholism affected my life. What may not get across is how very much I appreciate her as a mother. I did not have to hide anything and could always turn to her. Did I know she would be angry and/or disappointed? Yes, but that did not stop me because in the end, I knew that I did not have to go through anything alone. My mother is all about unconditional love and understanding. My parents allowed me to make important decisions about my life even though they did not always agree. They taught me independence and self reliance. My mother worries about me because I am the middle child who expresses her deepest emotions and she sees that as a weakness. She is only late in life coming to understand that emotions are healthier when they don’t have to be hidden. She doesn’t have to worry about me because thanks to her and my dad, my core is solid, emotional but solid.